Spring into March with six steampunk stories!

Spring into March with six steampunk stories!

Here’s a video I made for George Kirk – the librarian at the BGRS Learning Resource Centre  – all about my six favourite steampunk stories! You can read the transcript for the chat and more about each book below!

Hello! It’s March, almost springtime! And there are a lot of springs in steampunk. So to spring into March I would like to recommend six of my favourite steampunk stories. What is steampunk I hear you ask, well, I’ll tell you… steampunk is science-fiction fantasy with a Victorian flavour. Technology wise, there’s airships, steam-vehicles, clockwork machines, and sometimes there’s also a little bit of magic! And now that we’ve cleared that up. Let’s talk about the books–

1: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.

Northern Lights is the first part of the His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s about a girl called Lyra, who has a daemon called Pantalaimon.Pan is a fragment of Lyra’s soul in animal form, who can change shape to any creature under the sun. When Lyra’s friend Roger is kidnapped from Oxford, they set out on an adventure to find him that takes them to the frozen island of Bolvangar. They meet: gyptians, fairies, explorers, witches, evil scientists and enormous armoured polar bears!

It’s a cracking adventure, beautifully written and a classic of the genre.

Look out for the new BBC series that is based on His Dark Materials coming soon! And for the prequel series – The Book of Dust – that starts with The Belle Sauvage.

2: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.

A story of traction cities: armoured cities on wheels that move through the wastelands of the world eating each other up. While investigating a mystery, our heroes Tom and Hester, get pushed of the edge of London and end up in the desert. To make their way home, they must deal with traction pirates, asassin robots, and a plot to blow up the rest of the world!

It’s a story filled to the brim with action, unique ideas and quirky characters, and also the first part in a long running series.

Look out for the new movie of Mortal Engines coming in the autumn, produced by Peter Jackson!

3: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan is set in a steampunk 1914 on the brink of the 1st world war. It’s the Clankers, with their enormous steam-powered machines vs the Darwinists with their genetically engineered flying creatures! Alex, a clanker prince heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He is running away from the men who killed his father, when he bumps into Derren a girl who’s disguised herself as a boy to join the Darwinist airforce of Great Britain. So begin their adventures together. Can they stop the looming World War?

It’s a war story unlike any other – filled with spy missions, enormous battles between flying whales and walking tanks. And is also the first part of an excellent series.  Plus it has amazing illustrations!

4: The Eye of the North by Sinead O’Hart

When Emmeline’s scientist parents disappear, she finds herself on the way to a safehouse in France with an orphan boy called Thing. But she’s kidnapped before she can arrive by the evil Dr Bauer, who hopes to summon a dangerous creature from beneath the frozen North pole…

An action packed story that’s filled with so much adventure it will make your head spin! Thing is my favourite character in this one: resourceful, mouthy and brave, he rescues Emmeline as many times as she saves him!

5: Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy

Twins Arthur and Maudie receive word their father has died in an attempt to reach the South Polaris. A mysterious clue leads them to question this fact and they set out to discover the truth of what happened to his expedition…

What I like so far is: the fun world building of Lontown, and that Arthur has a bionic arm that makes him different from everyone else. Hopefully that theme develops throughout the story…

UPDATE: I finished the book. It’s a great fun younger mg steampunk adventure. Fast paced and filled with broad, bubbly characters and bright, colourful world building, with lots of different sights to see. The friendly and enjoyable writing style evoked the feel and tone of Aardman’s pirates, or a classic kids anime-manga adventure series.

6: COGHEART by me!!

Lily’s life is torn apart, when her papa, a famous inventor, disappears in an airship crash. With her friends, Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin her pet mechanical fox she set out on a journey to discover the truth of what happened to him. But first she must escape the plans of her evil governess and the machinations of a pair of silver-eyed men who are after her papa’s most famous invention: the Cogheart.

I promise you it’s an exciting and scary read, full of twist and turns that you hopefully won’t see coming!

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my video and that you read some of my steampunk book selection. If you do let me know what you thought of them! Goodbye and good luck, may the steam be with you! And keep reading!

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Podcast double- #DownTheRabbitHole & #WordMonkeys

Podcast double- #DownTheRabbitHole & #WordMonkeys

 This week I appeared on two podcasts: the Down the Rabbit Hole Radio Show and the WordMonkeys Podcast 

 

Down the Rabbit Hole Radio Show

Here’s me chatting to Polly Ho-Yen, and Katherine Woodfine and Mellissa Cox about three new books, each with a connection to poetry and spoken word: You Can Do Anything: Hip and Hop written by Akala, illustrated by Sav Akyuz Overheard in a Tower Block written by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kate Milner and Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence…

WordMonkeys Podcast 

Here’s me chatting to Matt Brown over on his WordMonkeys Podcast this week — discussing writing Cogheart, Postman Pat, Children’s TV shows, and how I get mistaken for another 72YO Peter Bunzl — and if you like that, there are lots of previous episodes featuring Matt’s writer chats with the likes of Piers Torday, Holly Bourne, Robin Stephens, SF Said etc.

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Cogheart Blogpost Roundup

Cogheart Blogpost Roundup

Finally for December, I thought I would share some of the blogposts and Q and As I have written since Cogheart was published in one big group post. Here they are…

It was fun to answer everyone’s various questions about the book, and even occasionally get to write about a few different things, like my favourite animals in children’s fiction…

 

Bringing Animals to Life in Children’s Fiction for The Writers and Artists Blog….

Talking about the genesis of Cogheart with Stephanie over on her blog Typewritered…

 I also spoke with Pippa Wilson  at the HelloPipski Blog about the inside story behind Cogheart.

Who posted a lovely review of the book…

 

For the YaShot Blog Tour 2016 I spoke to George Lester over on his blog.

I also did a super-long interview with the website Airship Ambassador, which I think answers any question anyone could possibly conceive of about the book, here…

Over on Christina Banach‘s blog I took part in her spotlight author interviews…

And on Words and Pictures the SCBWI Blog I answered questions in Nicky Schmidt’s Scbwi Debut Authors series, talking about my journey to publication.

Words and pictures Banner Andrea L Paktchi

Fab Cogheart review on Books-a-Go-Go blog

Fab Cogheart review on Books-a-Go-Go blog

Check out this fab Cogheart review by Becca Judge on her children’s book blog Books-a-Go-Go.

Here’s a lovely quote from her about Cogheart….

…an ingenious and fresh take on adventuring in Victorian England. Readers should get ready for danger and imminent peril in a world of automatons and airships. Think Christmas Day Doctor Who special, only much, much better, as Bunzl’s beautiful writing is as soulful as it is thrilling.cogheart-done

SEED – Review

SEED – Review

SeedSeed by Lisa Heathfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pearl is a naive and dreamy girl who has lived all her life in the cult of SEED. SEED is a commune and farm made up of a few families, who are cut off from technology and the outside world. It is run by the the enigmatic and sinister Papa S. When newcomers arrive – in the form of Linda and her teenage son Ellis and daughter Sophie – Pearls feelings for Ellis, and the things he tells her about the outside world, plus all the secrets that she gradually discovers about the cult, start to make her question everything she has believed in, and her whole way of life…

SEED reminded me of so many other great cult stories, both cinematic and written. Drop City, Sons of Perdition, Louis Theroux and his visits to the Fred Phelps Cult. I find cults are a fascinating subject, because they are a microcosm of the worst human behaviour. They are the most extreme example of the fearful and delusional stories that societies and families and religions create to control people, and they can be startling in the way people buy into them in order to survive, or perhaps because they know no different. This book takes all that cult craziness and builds it to a thrilling crescendo as the characters struggle to free first their minds and then themselves.

Lisa’s writing is so beautiful and elegiacal, and locates us so strongly with Pearl and her joyful, upbeat unquestioning character voice, and yet she still manages to make clear to the reader that there are dark motivations behind everything going on at SEED. It’s a fine balancing act and it works to add an extra layer of fear and revulsion to what it already a strange and engrossing story.

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Books I read in 2015 + a few of my faves…

Sepia Library Flying books

2015 is not quite over yet, and I might get one more book read if I’m lucky, but for now here are all the books I read in 2015. Looking at them all, there is quite a lot of Middle Grade, a bit of YA and one or two adult SCIFIs in there.

It’s a tough call but my favourite books of the year were probably.

In Middle Grade: PHOENIX,  ROOFTOPPERS being a close second.

In YA: SABRIEL

And in Adult fiction (of which I barely read any!): THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

Read all four and you will not be disappointed – they are all amazing!!

And to be honest, most of the rest of the year’s read were pretty amazing too…

Books I read in 2015 #2Books I read in 2015 #1

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

RooftoppersRooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautifully written story, filled with zingy one liners which made me laugh out loud, and had to be underlined for later.

Sophie is a spirited girl, who was found as a baby floating in a cello case on the ocean, one of few survivors from a shipwreck. Now, age twelve, and on the run from the British authorities, who want to put her in an orphanage, she travels to Paris to search for her mother, because ‘you should never ignore a possible’. With the aid of Charles her absent-minded but loveable long-legged guardian, and three rooftop living children – gruff Rooftopper Matteo and tree-dwelling sisters Safi and Anastasia – she gradually finds clues to her cello playing mother’s whereabouts.

It reminded me in elements of Peter Pan and also of Baron in the Trees as well as many other stories, and it has that classic timeless feel in spades, but packed with modern pithy humour in all the dialogue and description, a lovely middle grade book, that already feels like a classic.

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